The Largest Central American Microgrid is Officially Operational in Costa Rica Medical Plant

Establishment Labs, S.A. has commissioned a solar-plus-storage microgrid at their medical manufacturing plant in Costa Rica, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Costa Rican President Louis Guillermo Solís.  The heart of the project is a 500-kW / 1 MWh lithium-ion battery system by Demand Energy.  The intelligent energy storage system makes available the energy produced by a 276-KW solar PV system, built by project partner Rio Grande Renewables, a pioneer in microgrid development and financing.

The Operating System for Smart Microgrids

The system is controlled by Demand Energy’s own ‘Distributed Energy Network Operating System, or DEN.OS.  The operating system ensures that the facility will self-consume any solar energy generated on-site, and avoid exporting to the grid.  This application is similar to ‘Peak Shaving’ energy storage schemes common in US factories.[wpsm_quote author=”Shane Johnson, Vice President of Operations for Demand Energy” float=”left” width=”30″]Like most sensitive manufacturing and laboratory operations, the Establishment Labs facility must receive a continuous flow of quality power.  This DEN.OS-controlled intelligent microgrid offers a rapid payback thanks to significant savings from peak power reduction, and it will deliver instantaneous back-up power to support clean room operations when needed – preventing production losses during outages. The system eliminates the stranded costs of traditional diesel generators while offering a healthy return on investment through optimizing renewable solar generation, which drives a reduction in GHG emissions that supports Costa Rica’s goal to be the world’s first carbon-neutral country[/wpsm_quote]

According to Demand Energy, the microgrid will provide services internally and provide services to the local utility.  Benefits include peak demand reduction, solar PV “shaping”, and back-up power for critical loads.

Central American Microgrids Rising

The attendance of Costa Rica’s president highlights the role of microgrids, energy storage, and intelligent energy management as Costa Rica works towards becoming the first carbon-neutral country in the world.  The project is also part of a larger trend in Central America.

According to Demand Energy, the it is the largest operational microgrid in Central America.  Looking to ditch the high cost of electricity and diesel imports, the Costa Rica microgrid is a part of an emerging microgrid market in Central America that capitalize on abundant solar radiation.  Islas Secas, a small island off the coast of Panama recently announced a similar solar-storage microgrid.

[wpsm_quote author=”Brian J. Schmidly, President of Rio Grande Renewables” float=”left” width=”40″]This new generation of microgrid technologies is a game-changer in the region. They are not only cleaner than traditional grid electricity and diesel generators, but they’re also more affordable now than in previous years. We expect to see demand for microgrids grow as customer awareness increases and the benefits are clearly demonstrated. We applaud early adopters like Establishment Labs for taking a leadership position on environmentally responsible manufacturing and for being the first in the region to deploy this type of climate-friendly technology to help save money and compete internationally.[/wpsm_quote]

Establishment Labs’ Chief Operating Officer, Salvador Dada, commented: “We are committed to long-term environmental sustainability and green manufacturing, and value our partnership with Rio Grande Renewables and Demand Energy. They were instrumental in helping us finance and construct the first state-of-the-art storage-plus-solar PV microgrid in Costa Rica. This investment will not only provide critical back-up power capability, it will also make our manufacturing plant more energy efficient and help us obtain Carbon Neutral and LEED Gold certifications. We are extremely happy with the results and will consider this type of technology in all our future plant designs.”

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